Derek Reyst of Manchester and Connor Jennings of Saline, seniors at Saline High School, took first place in the Michigan state final of the annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition, held Wednesday at the Macomb Community College Expo Center in Warren.

The victory means more than $48,000 in scholarship prizes and automotive merchandise for Reyst and Jennings.

The team also took top honors in the written exam of the contest. Saline High School won first place in last year’s state contest. Their instructor is Tim Timoszyk.

The two will compete for additional scholarship dollars and the chance to kick start their automotive careers with a job show experience with premier racing team Roush Fenway Racing when they represent Michigan in the national Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition at Ford World Headquarters on June 14.

In just 66 minutes and 54 seconds, the Saline team diagnosed and fixed electrical and mechanical “bugs” deliberately placed in a 2012 Ford by Ford engineers. 

Runners-up in the competition were the team of Connor Booth and Nicholas Welch, students at Oxford High School.  Their instructor is Dan Balsley.

Nicholas Russ and Timothy Gibson of Bedford High School in Temperance placed third in today’s event. Their instructor is Charles Sanecki.

The teams competing today earned their places in the state contest  by outscoring other Michigan high school teams during an Internet-based exam in February. 

Nearly $12 million in scholarships are available at the state and national level from Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills. Both the national and state-wide competitions are organized with the support of Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and AAA’s Approved Auto Repair program, a public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country.


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